Flashback: ‘Bizarre’ ritual causes fire, protesters handcuff themselves to furniture and councillors reject rent hike

An unattended candle caused a fire in 1998. Picture: Archant

An unattended candle caused a fire in 1998. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

1998: A fire ripped through a Redbridge teenager’s bedroom after she inhaled incense in a bizarre attempt to increase her brain power.

The 16-year-old had been following tips in a teenage magazine that suggested lighting an incense candle and inhaling the fumes to stimulate the brain.

But the ritual went wrong when she left the candle unattended while watching television downstairs.

Her father, said: “She is extremely upset about what has happened and is worried that everyone will blame her.

“But I am just glad that nobody was hurt.

“It is very worrying that these magazines are encouraging to light candles in their rooms.”

The student lost CDs, clothes and most of her A-level coursework in the blaze.

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1978: Redbridge women handcuffed themselves to a stand at the Ideal Home exhibition in protest at the Russian treatment of Soviet Jews and prisoners of conscience.

Members of the Essex section of the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry were led by Anne Valentine, of Ashton Close, Woodford Green.

They used toy handcuffs to fasten themselves to furniture on a Russian stand at Olympia.

They made a particular appeal on behalf of one prisoner, Anatoly Sharansky, who had been held without trial for a year.

Mrs Valentine said: “The Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky told us all furniture coming out of the USSR is made in the labour camps by prisoners and we felt very strongly about this.”

1958: Redbridge Council rejected a recommendation that rents for elderly people should be increased.

Both Labour and Conservative councillors were in rare agreement against recommendations in a report from the housing committee that rents should be increased to 25 shillings weekly, around £26.80 in today’s money, from 21s 11d (£23.50).

The borough treasurer recommended this on the basis that the flats had been re-valued for rating purposes and a considerable increase in value had not been passed on to the tenants.

Aldborough Hatch Councillor Cowan proposed that the recommendation should not be confirmed or accepted as it was a departure from the general principle of the council in regard to elderly people’s flats.